Abdirashid Osman, left, and Ali Hamse share a laugh while moving furniture Tuesday at the new Somali Bantu Community Association office in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

This week the Buzz is moving, watching trees for telltale signs and taking in Maine’s national vegan ranking.

Fahrah Ibrahim treats the ice-covered sidewalk Tuesday in front of the new Somali Bantu Community Association office on Pine Street in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

First up: It’s a new home for the Somali Bantu Community Association.

When the group best known for its farming initiatives moved into its current space on Pierce Street in October 2015, it had one employee, Executive Director Muhidin Libiah.

It’s up to eight employees now and a new building at 222 Pine St. will offer three times the room.

“There’s a lot of possibilities,” Libiah said Tuesday. “We have programs that we’ve been dreaming of doing that we can right now do in the extra space.”

He envisions restarting a summer camp program along with creating a community center for people to drop-in and connect or get assistance with paperwork or resource referrals.


In the winter, “they can’t sit in Kennedy Park and talk, so we’re going to try to create a winter Kennedy Park for the elders and community members,” Libiah said.

The sale was brokered by Renee Roy from Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate/The Masiello Group and Noah Stebbins at The Boulos Company and closed Friday.

Renovations have already started and Libiah is hoping to move in in mid-February.

“I usually don’t get excited real quickly, but Friday when we closed, I got excited and I brought in a lot of my co-workers, my people, the community members to help the contractor to remove the old carpet,” he said.

Ed and Pat Jillson stand in their sugarhouse in Sabattus in 2019, when 3,000 people visited on Maine Maple Sunday. They are preparing for this year’s event set for March 27. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal file photo


Maine maple syrup production was down an estimated 16% last year, according to figures released this month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2021 crop production summary.


In Maine, that meant 495,000 gallons versus 2020’s 590,000.

By comparison, production was down 21% in Vermont, the country’s maple syrup leader, with 1.5 million gallons in 2021.

Ed Jillson wasn’t too surprised by the numbers.

“It’s all about the weather,” said Jillson of Jillson’s Farm & Sugarhouse in Sabattus. “If you can get 15 days of freezing and thawing, you get a good season. Last year, we had eight or nine or 10.”

Key is to be looking for all the signs starting in February.

“You might think you know it, and you tap them, and (the sap) might not run for three weeks,” he said. “It’s a hard thing to know — the idea is to be ready when it happens.”


He’ll tap about 3,000 trees this season and start stringing tubing soon.


Totalshape.com this month jogged the number of Google searches for vegan restaurants, actual number of vegan restaurants, vegan group Meetups and number of animal welfare groups to rank the states by its own vegan friendly index.

Maine ranked No. 33.

Nevada came in at No. 1, North Dakota at No. 50.

Feel like adding more vegetables and grains to your diet? Perfect timing. According to that same USDA report, Maine harvested 30,000 acres of corn last year, 19,000 acres of oats, 10,000 acres of barley, and 53,300 acres of potatoes.

Quick hits about business comings, goings and happenings. Have a Buzzable tip? Contact staff writer Kathryn Skelton at 689-2844 or kskelton@sunjournal.com.

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